Reflections on a Sabbatical - JennieGScott.com
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Reflections on a Sabbatical

I needed a break from the world.

Life was chaotic, I was overwhelmed, and the constant barrage of perfect pictures of everyone else’s world was about to do me in. So I did the 21st century version of squirreling myself away from society for a while – I logged off.

I didn’t blog; I didn’t read blogs. I swore off Facebook, and I shunned Twitter. I gave myself a time-out from the nonstop updates that stole my minutes and brought out my envy.

It was glorious.

And now that I’ve allowed myself some social media again, I almost wish I hadn’t. Perhaps it’s just my personality type, but I’ve come to realize how few contributions social media actually make for me personally.

Sure, I can see what people I went to high school with are up to (and goodness gracious, that’s more than I needed to know), and I can learn quickly who just got engaged or took a pregnancy test, and yes, I don’t know how we lived without knowing who was at the gym or seeing a picture of their meals, but truly – does the information we’re obsessed with posting and fanatical about reading enrich our lives? Does it make us better people, or does it just make us voyeurs? Does it make us more satisfied, or does it just make us compare?

I know what it does for me, and it often isn’t pretty.

Now, I’m not saying that social media can’t be useful. Certainly it can. It promotes some good causes, reconnects old friends, and (sometimes) encourages us. But if we were to draw up a list of pros and cons, I’m afraid the cons would win every time – at least for me. And in an age where time is so limited and people are already so disconnected, allowing social media to consume such a large part of our lives is unproductive and isolating. And I don’t think anyone can argue that it doesn’t consume a lot of time. Nearly everyone I know checks their social media multiple times a day. Don’t believe me? Go to any restaurant and just watch the people dining. They can’t eat an entire meal without checking who has updated Facebook or taking selfies to show the world they were on a date (enough already!). We no longer know how to be; we must also do.

What it all boils down to for me is this quote from Roosevelt – “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Every single time I get on social media – and maybe it’s just me – I compare what I say/do/look like/wear/write with everyone else. I don’t want to, and goodness knows I don’t try to, but it just happens. Most people post the highlights of their lives (although we all have those ‘friends’ who post the negatives that should really remain private), so seeing the highlights can wrongly make us believe that their lives are all highlights. News flash – they aren’t. Social media has become, for many, just the grown-up way of bragging about the good and concealing the bad.

My sabbatical revealed to me that I can live without Facebook. Twitter isn’t a necessity, and even though I enjoy keeping up with strangers’ lives via blogs, I don’t have to. I did not suffer in the least from not knowing the ins and outs of others’ days. I managed just fine without poring over entries of 140 characters. I spent more time reading and less time with my nose buried in my phone. Life felt calmer, and I honestly felt less anxiety. Maybe it was imagined and just a placebo effect, or maybe there was really a connection. Whatever the case, I learned something valuable. Less computer, more living. You should try it sometime.

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No Comments
  • Meredith
    Posted at 11:36h, 18 May Reply

    It's funny how your post coincided with my own thoughts lately. Thanks for sharing.

  • mel
    Posted at 15:43h, 22 May Reply

    I found your blog awhile back. I can't remember how, but liked your writing immediately. I am also a teacher with two children, a boy and a girl. I have also experienced trouble in my marriage, in the form of unfaithfulness, although we are trying to work it out.

    Anyway, I completely agree with your thoughts on social networks. I've closed my Facebook account a couple of times. I'm not on Twitter. I love to read blogs, but have to go through them from time to time and delete those that no longer interest me so I only have a few that I really enjoy.

    I got rid of my "smart" phone last August and just went back to one last week. That has been the best learning experience for me. I realized how silly it is to constantly receive notifications from anything and everything. I hate seeing people on their phones everywhere and knew I didn't want that to be me. I also feel that I need to be the best example to my kids that I can be. I don't want them growing up seeing me constantly on some sort of device and feeling ignored and/or thinking that is the norm (though sadly, it seems to be).

    Just wanted to say that I appreciate your thoughts and am glad there are others out there who think about these things too.

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